Two Story Nucs
I just got the following question via email from a beekeeper on the Organic Beekeeping list:
Dean, I was browsing through your photos and saw one with this caption "Notice
the new special 4 frame "supers" for each half of the double nuc. This is similar to the "feed box" written about long ago, and all who saw agreed that this is going to be and excellent way to overwinter." Can you elaborate some for me? How do they work and how do they help with overwintering?
I got started with two hives last spring. They are small cell, treatment free (one of the hives has bees from Michael Bush). I am in Sioux City Iowa. This is my first winter with bees and it has been a cold snowy one so far. The rough winter has gotten me very interested in techniques to help the bees in
cold windy climates like ours.
You should look at the pictures in the "Conference and After" slideshow to get a better idea of what the setup is.
Mike Palmer and Kirk Webster both make up small nucs early in the season, with the idea that the nuc won't get too overcrowded (and swarm) before winter... but will build up enough to have population and stores to overwinter successfully.
What you are seeing in this picture is an empty box (no frames) as a hive stand. Above that is a 10 frame box specially equiped with a feeder that acts as a divider, and a bottom board that provides separate entrances for the two halves of the box. Each half has 4 frames.
Above that are (2) four frame "supers". A strong nuc has enough of a workforce to store honey and/or draw out comb. The bees like to store honey above the cluster, and the extra box allows for a larger population and more stores.
The overwintered nucs are used for expansion, boosting/requeening production hives, or for sale. The extra box means that a nice nuc can be harvested, and the remaining bees can raise another queen (from brood or a queen cell provided by the beekeeper).